Windsor-Essex has no MP in government, no seat in cabinet

Windsor-Essex residents have done it again. They elected three representatives who will not help form the next government.
Three NDP MPs, from left, Cheryl Hardcastle, Brian Masse and Tracey Ramsey are all headed to Ottawa but with no chance of being in cabinet. (CBC File Photo)

Windsor-Essex residents have done it again. They elected three representatives who will not help form the next government.

CBC projects the federal Liberals to win a majority government but constituents in Windsor-Tecumseh, Windsor West and Essex elected NDP members of parliament.

Cheryl Hardcastle won Windsor-Tecumseh, Brian Masse was re-elected in Windsor West and Tracey Ramsey upset Conservative incumbent Jeff Watson in Essex.

It's nearly the same scenario that left southern Ontario region with little influence in Queen's Park. During the Ontario general election in June 2014, area residents sent a trio of NDP MPPs to Toronto; Percy Hatfield, Lisa Gretzky and Taras Natyshak.

Gretzky actually replaced a sitting a cabinet minister in Teresa Piruzza.

The closest provincial Liberal is in London. The same can now be said at the federal level.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is disappointed by the outcome. He thinks it will be more difficult for the city to get its share of the infrastructure funding promised by the Liberals, since the area did not elect a member of the government.

"In terms of being able to get benefits for this community, and actually be around the table with the people who hold the purse strings, it really puts us in the political wilderness, and so it's going to be more of a challenge to secure funding for important projects for the community, but we will continue to advocate. I will continue to advocate, and so will city council," Dilkens said.

Dilkens was also hoping Conservative Jo-Anne Gignac would be successful in becoming the MP in Windsor-Tecumseh.

Hardcastle promised her supporters, "as your MP, I'll be your strong voice in Ottawa. I will make you proud."

NDP has work cut out for it

Joe Comartin, the NDP member who did not seek re-election in Windsor-Tecumseh and was replaced by Hardcastle, said the trio of MPs has its work cut out for them.

Comartin said it's more difficult and MPs are forced to work much harder when they aren't part of the government.

He said MPs must carry two or three portfolios. In 2002, when Masse was first elected, it made Comartin's job to represent the area easier. With three NDP members working together it may be even easier.

However, the NDP are projected to win few more than 30 seats, relegated to third-party status behind the Conservatives.

"I've been in this situation before, against majority governments. We will work hard every single with, if it turns out to be a majority, with anybody that works on the environment, anybody that wants to work on auto, anybody that wants to work on finishing the border here," Masse said.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara is concerned about the lack of representation in government in Ottawa.

"As a Liberal, I'm ecstatic that we're back in power, but we have a weak third party. We [in Windsor-Essex] have no representatives in upper levels of government," he said. "Our closest member of government is in London. So the southwestern mayors need to work together to lobby for our region."

'Left of political spectrum'

Sarah Dunphy, adjunct assistant professor in political science at the University of Windsor, said the Liberals may listen to the NDP's and Windsor's needs.

"They're left of the political spectrum so they might be able to form alliances over the course of the next few months," Dunphy said.

One issue the parties were divided on was the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The NDP swears it will cost Canadian jobs, particularly in the auto sector. Justin Trudeau said the Liberals are "pro-trade" and wants to see the details of the recently agreed-upon deal, which must still be ratified by Parliament.

At a campaign stop, he was asked several questions about his views on the auto sector and what the Liberals might offer the sector in light of changes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring. He never offered a concrete answer.

He was treading lightly on that topic. If he sided with one view, good or bad, it could have cost him votes in the election," Dunphy said.

She called it a "politically strategic move, saying picking a side could have been "political suicide."


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